Dublin was treated to one of the best athletics Meets in more than a decade at last night’s Morton Games. The Meet was held in ideal conditions on a warm July evening. An expectant crowd began to gather early in the evening and by the time Amhrán na bhFiann was played at 7.15 the crowd had swelled to an estimated 3000. The attendance included the Mayor of Fingal Cian O’Callaghan, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar, Junior Minister for Sport Michael Ring and completely unannounced An Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
The Pre-Programme produced some fine racing, in the IMC 800 metre D & C races Kevin Maunsell (Clonmel A.C.) ran sub 2 recording a time of 1.58.22 ahead of John Collins (Skibbereen A.C.) and Sam Miller (Ballymena and Antrim A.C.). The C 800 metre race produced a home winner as Andrew Jenkinson (Clonliffe) produced a welcome comeback to form after early season injury to record a time of 1.55.49 ahead of Denis Coughlan (St. Finbarr’s A.C.) and Richard Owens (UCD A.C.).
In the Junior Men’s Mile Clonliffe’s Aaron Hanlon drove on at a relentless pace to win in a PB of 4.16.32 ahead of clubmate Ian Guiden also running a PB of 4.23.52 with Danny Lawlor (St. Abbans A.C.) 3rd in 4.26.09.
The Men’s 400 metres H got the international programme underway at 7.20. Pre race favourite Nathan Woodward (GBR) justified his favourite tag as he recorded an excellent win in a time of 49.49, birthday boy Thomas Barr was 2nd in 50.45 with Richard Yeats (GBR) 3rd in 50.99.
Amy Foster successfully defended her title winning the 100 metres in a fast 11.51 from Kelly Proper 11.61 and Celia Walters (JAM) 11.67. The Men’s 100 was a scorcer. Jamaican visitor Kenroy Anderson tore down the Morton Stadium track to win in a time of 10.26, in the heats an hour earlier Anderson had recorded a time of 10.29. Olympic bound Barakat Al-Harti (OMA) was 2nd in 10.36 with Ireland’s Steven Colvert 3rd in 10.57.
At this stage of the evening one of the most exciting races on the programme commenced – the Albie Thomas Men’s 3000 which was paced to try and deliver a stadium record. Eamonn Coghlan’s mark from August 1987 standing at 7.56.73. With three laps to go the US trio of Elliot Heath, Ben True and Bobby Curtis had opened a gap and drove on with relentless pace. True hit the front and with a scorching final lap of some 55 seconds demolished the stadium record running a time of 7.44.40 with Heath 2nd 7.43.26 and Bobby Curtis also dipping under the existing mark recording a time of 7.54.25.
On then to the Women’s 800s where the field was split in two equal races. These were eagerly awaited featuring world class athletes. Race 1 was as expected an excellent race with Gabrielle Anderson (USA) crossing the line first in a fast 2.02.99 from Olympic bound Jessica Smith (CAN) 2nd 2.03.51 and in an excellent run national champion Siobhan Eviston (Raheny Shamrock) was 3rd in 2.03.99.
Race 2 was even faster as Melissa Bishop (CAN) wound up her Olympic preparations with a win in a time of 2.01.80 from Gemma Simpson (GBR) 2.02.61 and Diane Cummins (CAN) 2.03.06.
The Men’s 400 brought one of the biggest cheers of the night when Brian Gregan running on his home patch recorded one of his fastest ever runs winning in a time of 45.61, Ahmed Al-Mirjabi (OMA) was 2nd 46.55 and national champion Brian Murphy 3rd 46.63. Nick Symmonds (USA) ran his first ever 400 (sans blocks) recording a time of 47.45
The IMC 800 B race produced another home win as Kris Valters (Clonliffe) made a very welcome return back to form running his fastest time of the year of 1.51.40 to take a very popular win ahead of Gareth Hill (Ballymena and Antrim) 1.51.84 and Billy Ryan (Ferrybank) 1.52.57. The A race was a cracker, world 1500m bronze medallist Matt Centrowitz sitting nicely in 3rd place and then blasting down the home straight to take the win in a time of 1.47.72 ahead of one of the future stars of athletics Charlie Grice (GRB)? 1.48.06 and Kyle Smith (CAN) 3rd 1.49.06.
Next up in an action packed programme was the Women’s Mile which featured six Olympians. Nicole Schappert (USA) was the surprise of the race taking an excellent win in 4.30.65 from 1500 metre Olympian Zoe Buckman (AUS) 4.30.86, Schappert just catching Buckman on the line. Another Olympic bound Aussie Gen Lacaze was 3rd 4.32.16 from two other Olympic bound athletes Tereze Capkova (CZE) 4.32.69 and Emma Coburn (USA) 4.33.24. Every athlete in this race running inside the 1968 Stadium Record.
The final track race of the night was the Mortin Mile. In an extraordinary race there were a dozen athletes in contention coming off the final bend. In the dive for the line the proverbial blanket covered the first half dozen. 2010 Morton Mile winner Will Leer was the declared (eventually) winner in a time of 3.56.39 from David Torrence (USA) 100th of a second behind 3.56.4 and Ryan Gregson (AUS) a further 500ths behind 3.56.47, Craig Miller another 400ths behind 3.56.49, Ryan Hill (USA) 3.56.78 and Ciaran O’Lionaird 3.57.02.
The field events also produced some terrific competition. In an excellent pole vault Swedish visitor Per Drageryds won with a best of 4.85, Clonliffe’s David Donegan was 2nd 4.68 with Ian Rogers (Clonliffe) 3rd 4.53. Zoe Browne was 7th in the mixed competition with a best of 4.03.
The Men’s Discus was won by Jamie Williamson (GBR) 52.34 from Thomas Rauktys (LIT/Clonliffe) 49.95 and Sean Breathnach 3rd 46.36. Kelly Proper won the long jump competition, successfully defending her title from 2011, with a fine 6.35 from Janae Genette (USA) 6.18 with Mary McCloone 3rd 5.92.
Full results of 2012 Morton Games – go to www.mortongames.ie events and drop down to “Start Lists and Results”.